With the 2017 NAB AFL Under-18 National Championships drawing to a close this evening, the Footy Prophet Draft team have put their heads together to decide their All-Australian side for 2017. Vic Metro ended the Carnival as the champions, despite a shock loss to the Allies this afternoon. Surprise packet Western Australia finished level with Metro with three wins, but their loss to the Victorians saw them finish second. It’s no surprise then that our AA team features these two states prominently, and their respective captains in Joel Garner (VM) and Oscar Allen (WA) have been awarded the FP All-Australian co-captaincy. The coach award goes to WA’s Peter Sumich, after helping an unfancied Sandgropers side turn in some impressive performances.
Here’s the final team:
The defence is anchored with Country’s mobile tall Oscar Clavarino, who had somewhat of a breakout game against Metro – dominating the defensive 50 with a number crucial intercept marks. He is joined in the tall department by South Australia’s Harrison Petty and the excellent Aaron Naughton from WA. Naughton, in particular, was a standout across the competition and could be the first tall defender taken in November.
Also getting a nod are Metro duo, Joel Garner and Nick Coffield. Captain Garner was as solid as a rock for the champions, and Nick Coffield proved he belonged at the highest level with his superb distribution by foot. The defence is rounded off by Western Australia’s Jake Patmore, who showed plenty of drive off half-back with his line-breaking speed and agility, along with his versatile team-mate Jordan Boullineau, and the ultra-consistent Ben Paton from Vic Country on the interchange.
Metro big man Sam Hayes gets the nod in the ruck, with team-mate Jack Higgins and WA’s Brayden Ainsworth named as followers. Hayes is sure to spark the debate of whether a ruckman should be taken early in the Draft come November, and if he slides then someone will net a bargain. Jack Higgins would have no doubt been in Larke Medal contention after a stellar carnival, while Brayden Ainsworth proved beyond doubt that he could contend at this level with a string of top performances against elite competition.
They are joined by big bodied Country star Luke Davies-Uniacke, his team-mate Paddy Dow and Metro’s Patrick Naish. Davies-Uniacke, who although not dominating, showed plenty of traits to prove why people see him as this year’s number 1. He was arguably out-pointed by team-mate Dow, whose work in the centre was often a catalyst to Country’s attacks, and who provided a good target inside 50 himself. Richmond Father/son prospect Naish was another to take the step up to the top level like a duck to water – with his run and carry and precision kicking making him a constant conduit on the wing for Metro.
The midfield is finished off with the only Allies pick, Zac Bailey and Metro’s Lachlan Fogarty. Bailey was superb through the middle for the Allies, showing an innate ability to find the footy and burst away from stoppages, while Fogarty work rate, vision and pressure were impressive.
The forward line is spearheaded by WA Co-Captain, and Larke Medallist, Oscar Allen. Allen has won plenty of admirers during the carnival, with the smart, athletic half-forward booting 11 goals in his four outings. He is joined by the exciting bottom age prospect from SA, Jack Lukosius. Lukosius is already touted as a potential top 5 pick in the 2018 Draft, and will have excited recruiters with his incredible work rate and vision in the forward half. The tall stocks are boosted with Callum Coleman-Jones who marked incredibly well around the ground for SA when utilised as a ruck / forward.
Metro duo Cameron Rayner and Charlie Constable also both find their way comfortably into selection. Constable was excellent through the centre for Metro, extracting the ball from the contest and showing incredible awareness in finding team-mates. He also provided a strong target in the forward arc, when resting forward. Rayner was another big standout of the carnival and will certainly be in the No.1 discussions. His strength and intensity through the centre has more than just a shade of Dustin Martin, as does his ability to impact games when stationed in the goal square, as proved with his five goals against SA.
The forwards are rounded out with two very exciting prospects for the 2018 Draft in WA’s Ian Hill and SA’s Izak Rankine. Both players have agility and pace that are off the charts, but it is their footy nous and ability to impact and turn a game that will have recruiters counting down the days until they get to select them.